Is Android a threat to privacy?

Jeff Gould by Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
Friday, April 17, 2015

This week the European Commission took not one but two momentous actions against Google. The first  was the filing of formal antitrust charges accusing Google of abuse of dominance in online search. The second, was the launch of an investigation into Google’s practice of forcing mobile device manufacturers to use its purportedly open source Android operating system in only the way that Google prefers. Android of course is the world’s most widely used operating system, with a rapidly growing user base that now numbers more than one billion. While we usually think of it as something for consumers, Android devices are also used in countless enterprises, schools and government agencies. It’s worth taking a look at what the EU’s Android investigation means for those users.

European Commission: Google's Conduct Infringes on Antitrust Rules

Bradley Shear by Bradley Shear, Law Office of Bradley S. Shear
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Illegally abusing market position in Internet search is intertwined with data collection, usage, and privacy issues because in order to receive the most relevant search results to a search query a search engine must be able to access and process voluminous amounts of data very quickly. For years, 90% to 96% of Google’s revenue has come from advertising which means it is dependent upon being able to obtain massive amounts of personal information at a low cost to feed its behavioral advertising machine. Data dominance also appears to be a growing concern of the EC. For example, Commissioner Vestager recently stated that she’s studying the U.S.’s “stringent approach to dealing with personal data as a means to payment” in its review of deals. This appears to signal that regulators are beginning to understand that personal and corporate data issues are intertwined with antitrust matters.

Updating Global Cyber Law Enforcement

Paul Rosenzweig by Paul Rosenzweig, The Chertoff Group
Monday, April 06, 2015

The world's cyber network is growing exponentially. As it grows, criminality and malfeasance have followed. But law enforcement is, unfortunately, still mired in a nation-based system of police cooperation - the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process - that has not kept up with the pace of the new domain. It is as if the police were using a 1930s Ford to chase a 2015 Tesla. Unless the MLAT process is updated and modernized, law enforcement will remain hopelessly behind, mired in the past.

Don’t let America be boxed in by its own computers

General Michael Hayden by General Michael Hayden, Chertoff Group
Friday, April 03, 2015

In a perverse way, as the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Precedents we set will be followed — or exploited — by others in an economic system that becomes more globalized and hence more interdependent by the day. Already others point to U.S. activities to justify their own, often nefarious, efforts. Witness the Chinese trying to create moral and legal equivalency between legitimate U.S. intelligence and their massive theft of intellectual property, or their placement of newly minted restrictions on U.S. IT firms. One wonders what the Russias and Chinas of the world will demand if U.S.-based firms are forbidden to create encryption schemes inaccessible to themselves or the government. Beyond the realm of speculation, the Chinese company Alibaba has announced plans to open a cloud data center in the United States. How will we feel when a Chinese court orders Alibaba to send data on Americans back to China, citing our own behavior as justification?

How the U.S. and EU Can Find a Path Forward After Snowden

Jeff Gould by Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
Friday, April 03, 2015

The seemingly endless stream of revelations from Edward Snowden about the surveillance activities of U.S. intelligence agencies have put the EU in a bind. Despite the occasional dark suspicions of American officials and media that the goal of EU policy is to hobble American power and influence, the truth is quite different. But today, the EU needs America’s help in shoring up a strategic relationship that is vital to both sides.

Why State and Local Law Enforcement Should Be Part of the MLAT Reform Process

H. Bryan Cunningham by Bryan Cunningham, Cunningham Levy LLP
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MLATs are formal agreements between countries establishing procedures for requesting evidence stored outside the requesting country’s jurisdiction. Historically, in many time-sensitive cases, law enforcement agencies officials exchanged information informally and private companies cooperated without formal legal process. But with increasing overseas attention to privacy rights and concerns about secret, unilateral data collection by national governments against other countries’ citizens, companies increasingly are refusing to cooperate informally and governments are retaliating for unfair “spying” on their citizens. State and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) should care about this problem not only because of its potential impact on the general ability of the U.S. to take down international terror and other criminal organizations, but because, in our increasingly interconnected world, what once could have been treated largely as “local” cases, such as cyber fraud and child pornography now require retrieval of evidence from overseas, and even basic crimes without any obvious cyber component will require evidence stored overseas.

Alibaba And The Cognitive Dissonance Of American Data Policy

Paul Rosenzweig by Paul Rosenzweig, The Chertoff Group
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The issue is put in stark relief by the recent announcement from Alibaba, the Chinese technology company that plans to open up a new data center in Silicon Valley. From a business perspective, the decision makes perfect sense. The center will allow Alibaba to expand one of its product lines — cloud services for businesses — into the American market. It portends an effort by Alibaba to go head-to-head with other cloud service providers, like Amazon, that lease computing systems to businesses. Where, before, Alibaba’s clientele was almost exclusively Chinese, the new data center is part of an effort to become more multinational. And that will give American law enforcement heartburn. Because if they don’t want to be intellectual hypocrites, they are going to be obliged to acknowledge that Alibaba’s entry into the American market also means that the Chinese government will have direct access to American data – because the U.S. government says the exact same thing about American companies operating in China. And that can’t be a comfortable conclusion. The most notable example of this legal theory is a case pending in New York. In December 2013, Microsoft, received a warrant issued by a magistrate in the Southern District of New York that ordered the company to turn over information relating to a user whose data was stored at the company’s Dublin, Ireland, data center.

Much-needed bipartisan privacy reform: Support LEADS

Julie AndersonKaren Evans by Julie Anderson, AG Strategy Group
Karen Evans, KE&T Partners
Monday, March 23, 2015

In Washington, legislation with support from both sides of the aisle is hard to come by – particularly when it comes to technology, as we've seen with the net neutrality debate. But technology also brings people together, Republicans and Democrats alike. From the perspective of two appointees who have served in different presidential administrations, we don't see eye-to-eye on every issue. But we do share common ground in our support of the Law Enforcement Access to Stored Data Abroad (LEADS) Act. Our bipartisan support is a testament to its importance. The LEADS Act is a reasonable and bipartisan approach to reforming outdated laws; enacting the legislation will preserve the balance between privacy and security while updating the rules that govern digital trade. We'd like to highlight why this legislation is vital to law enforcement activities and individual privacy.

A Message from Parents: Advertising and Education Do Not Mix

Jeff Gould by Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
Monday, March 23, 2015

A new survey by privacy advocate SafeGov of parents in a large American city confirms what most sensible people already believed: parents want corporate-sponsored advertising out of our schools. After spending much of the past two years asking parents in a dozen foreign countries how they feel about online privacy and advertising in their children’s schools, SafeGov decided it was time to do a deep dive on this subject back home in the United States. They looked for a city with a progressive school district committed to bringing technology into the classroom. They chose Boston. The underlying insight of the project is that while the boom in classroom use of Internet apps based on technology originally designed for consumers has been largely beneficial for students, it has also led to a potentially dangerous confusion of business models. The power of Internet apps comes from their ability not only to deliver content quickly and efficiently to vast numbers of users, but also to track how those users interact with the content.

Surveillance Law in Dire Need of Reform: The Promise of the LEADS Act

Daniel J. Solove by Daniel Solove, TeachPrivacy
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The law regulating government surveillance and information gathering is in dire need of reform. This law, which consists of the Fourth Amendment and several statutes, was created largely in the 1970s and 1980s and has become woefully outdated. The result is that law enforcement officials and intelligence agencies can readily find ways to sidestep oversight and protections when engaging in surveillance and data collection.